Police seize 68 big cats from Tiger King star Jeffrey Lowe’s animal park

Jeffrey Lowe has been ordered to hand over the big cats to the authorities (Picture: Netflix/AP)

Authorities have seized 68 big cats from an animal park owned by Tiger King star Jeffrey Lowe.

The US Justice Department (DOJ) has said the removal of the animals – a mixture of lions, tigers, ligers and a jaguar – took place over concerns about the way Lowe was treating the animals.

Lowe, 53, rose to fame following the release of Netflix’s popular Tiger King series in March last year and starred along Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic.

In a statement, the DOJ said the seizure of the cats from Lowe’s park in Thackerville, Oklahoma, comes after several inspections of the park found the Lowe and his wife, Lauren, allegedly failed to provide animals with proper veterinary care, nutrition and shelter to protect them from bad weather.

Jeff Lowe starred in Tiger King alongside Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin (Picture: Netflix)

The department said the animal welfare failures violated aspects of the Endangered Species Act.

The couple had a civil complaint filed against them in November, which accused them of ongoing inhumane treatment and improper handling of big cats.

In an affidavit, investigators alleged the animals were being kept in disturbing conditions and some of them showed signs of high anxiety and stress. Several cats had began losing their fur and were showing signs of weight loss while others had signs of untreated wounds, investigators claimed.

‘This seizure should send a clear message that the Justice Department takes alleged harm to captive-bred animals protected under the Endangered Species Act very seriously’, said acting assistant attorney general, Jean Williams, of the DOJ’s environment and natural resources division.

Lowe had acquired the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park from Joseph Maldonado-Passage, known as Joe Exotic, who is currently serving prison time after being convicted for attempting to hire a hitman to kill self-proclaimed animal rights activist Carole Baskin.

But in June last year Lowe was ordered by a court to hand ownership of the park over to Carole Baskin.

Two months later Lowe claimed the GW Exotic Animal Park had been ‘closed effective immediately’ and that all the animals were being moved to his park in Thackerville.

Joe Exotic is being held in the Santa Rose County Jail in Milton, Florida (Picture: AP)
The lions, tigers, a liger and a jaguar have been removed from Lowe’s park (Picture: US Department of Justice)

In a court hearing last week, a judge found the Lowes in contempt for violating an order that set out to ban them from breeding or exhibiting any more big cats. They were also ordered to hand all of their animals over to the government, according to AP.

With the two facing a $1,000 per-day fine, an attorney for the couple said they were willing to give up the big cats, resulting in the seizure announced by the DOJ on Thursday.

In statement to People magazine, Mr Lowe’s attorney, Walter Mosley, said Jeffrey Lowe’s asked people to ‘watch Tiger King 2 for the real story, not the story made up by a corrupt DOJ’.

Netflix is yet to indicate if a second season of Tiger King is in the making.

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